In the two days after the Fox News Christmas tree in New York City was set on fire, the network covered the incident for nearly two hours -- roughly twice as much time as it devoted to the deadliest school shooting of the year.
On November 30, a 15-year-old Michigan high school student reportedly took a semiautomatic handgun and opened fire inside Oxford High School. The massacre left four students dead and seven more injured, including a teacher. The alleged teen gunman was charged as an adult and his parents are also facing charges after allegations that they ignored several concerns about their son’s potential for violence, including one from the school the morning of the shooting.
One week later, on December 8, Fox News’ 50-foot-tall Christmas tree outside its New York City headquarters was set on fire. Police have arrested a man for the fire and charged him with seven counts, including “criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and arson.” According to police, the suspect acted alone, and the fire “didn’t appear to be premeditated or politically motivated.” Fox replaced the Christmas tree a day later.
Throughout the two days after the deadliest school shooting this year, Fox News discussed the story for just over one hour, all of which was breaking news. By comparison, the network devoted nearly two full hours to covering its Christmas tree throughout the first two days after it was set on fire, dwarfing the Michigan shooting coverage.
Fox News figures described the Christmas tree fire as evidence of a “war on religion” and a “desecration of faith,” proof that “no city is safe,” and the result of “Democrat leadership” as well as “criminal justice reform” efforts by “DAs that have been supported by George Soros.” Furthering the network’s overblown coverage, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade called the incident “a hate crime” and Fox News contributor the Rev. Jacques DeGraff went as far as comparing it to Pearl Harbor.
Fox News has a history of devoting minimal coverage to instances of gun violence; the network completely ignored video footage of Philando Castile’s killing by police in 2017, and covered the 2019 mass shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for 14 minutes, the 2020 Milwaukee brewery shooting for a little more than 18 minutes, and the 2021 Atlanta spa shooting for just over an hour.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for any of the terms “gun violence,” “shot,” or “death” or any variation of any of the terms “gunfire,” “shoot,” “wound,” “kill,” or “injure” within close proximity of any of the terms “Oxford,” “Michigan,” “Oxford High School,” or “Crumbley,” from November 30 through December 2, 2021.
Media Matters searched Fox News transcripts in the SnapStream video database for the word “tree” from December 8-9.
We timed segments, which we defined as instances when the Michigan school shooting or the Christmas tree fire was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of the Michigan school shooting or the fire. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed the shooting or the fire with one another. We also timed mentions, which we defined as instances when a single speaker discussed the shooting or the fire without another speaker engaging with the comment, and teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment about the shooting or the fire scheduled to air later in the broadcast. We rounded all times to the nearest minute. Cuts to live coverage were not counted.